1. I’ve been craving hot cocoa and tamales, classic local winter fare. Chocolate is, of course, a Mexican food that was traditionally drunk with cornmeal and chile. It took Europeans to mix it with milk and sugar, however. I don’t put sugar in my hot cocoa because I have an aversion to sweet flavors unless they come from fruit. In that sense, the hot beverage I’ve been drinking in the morning is a mix of European and Aztec tastes; drinking it by the side of hot tamales lends the meal an even stronger Aztec aesthetic due to the chile and masa. I don’t normally eat corn, as it’s part of the trifecta of grains that cause intense digestive discomfort: corn, wheat, and oats. But if I eat corn, it might as well be in the form of masa soaked in lime because it’s more digestible after soaking and processing. But honestly, it’s the combination of chile and chocolate that is warm and energizing to the body in winter. Since I don’t really like sugar, but crave the bitters and spices, I might as well have a cup of hot chocolate with chile added to taste and skip the corn altogether.
2. There are times when I should probably skip the energizing nature of beverages like cocoa and coffee, however. If the day starts out at 25 degrees, it will likely reach 70 by afternoon. The sun is intense here. There are people who live off sunshine. Purportedly. I’ve also heard of monks who live off 3 hours of sleep a night because they spend their days meditating out of doors. That is, they do nothing. And sunshine eaters usually have secret fast-food habits. I live off about 3 hours of sleep, as well, but no amount of meditation kills the sudden bouts of intense frustration caused by a lack of sleep combined with an ever-encroaching social world. At some point, I’m going to find myself leaving my house and behind the wheel of a car. Frustrated people should not drive. Especially not in Roswell. Or perhaps in all of New Mexico because there is this thing called the 4-way stop, and nobody knows what to do with it because the New Mexico driving manual teaches right-to-wait instead of right-of-way. So people sit and use elaborate hand-waving techniques during the day and light-flashing techniques at night. One night, I found myself in an elaborate battle of wills with another driver, as we ludicrously flashed our lights at each other. He had stopped first, and he would go first. Damn it! With the frost and intense sunlight of winter mornings, however, nobody can really ascertain hands waving in other cars. Yeah, it’s really time to lay off those stimulating beverages when you find yourself banging on the wheel in utter frustration while trying to conform to the local social system but not getting it at all. Okay, I don’t really try to conform. Half my problem.
3. If you think New Mexicans are dopey because they are quite happy to just sit and sit and wave at each other, they aren’t half as bad as the rest of the nation that still has no idea New Mexico is a state and has been for over a hundred years now. Look, if New Mexicans sit at stop signs, try driving down in Mexico, where you think New Mexicans are from, and where traffic laws are more likely to be maybe you have a right to wait, maybe go, but don’t get it wrong, or that cop waving his hand over there will bust your ass. In other words, accept the New Mexicans for being the friendly and patient citizens they quite clearly are.
4. If you were in my house right now, you might think you were in Mexico due to my preference for listening to Mexican music. I’ve been rediscovering my old favorites on YouTube, as most of my CDs have been damaged. I like classic norteño and banda, such as Ramon Ayala and Banda el recodo. Just now, I looked up a song I really like by Sergio Vega. The song is familiar, but I’d never purchased an album by this artist. Imagine my not-surprise when I read he’d been gunned down by members of a drug cartel. This has happened to a number of my favorite musicians. That’s another point in favor of New Mexico: the culture here has long been cut off from Mexico, even when it was under Mexican rule. That part is neither here nor there; it’s just reality, but it does mean New Mexicans don’t go in for gunning down their most popular musicians, or penning songs that turn drug-runners into heroic revolutionaries. Folk songs in every culture tend to be dark, but they don’t all celebrate the darkness. Ah, well. At least we can share tamales and chocolate as common to both cultures. What do New Mexicans share with the United States? Science cities, I guess. And McDonald’s, which serves really awful hot chocolate, sorry to say.